AD #1330 – FoMoCo in Mourning, GM Needs to Come Clean, Inventories Creeping Up

March 10th, 2014 at 11:51am

Runtime: 9:00

- Ford Motor Co. in Mourning
- GM Needs to Bare Facts in Ignition Recall
- Automaker Inventories Creeping Up
- Toyota Helping Mazda
- 2016 Chevrolet Volt to Debut Next Year
- Fierce Fuel Systems’ Diesel Breakthrough

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Hello and welcome to a brand-new week of Autoline Daily.

FOMOCO IN MOURNING
William Clay Ford, senior passed away this weekend at 88 years old. He was a former board member of the Ford Motor Company and the owner of the Detroit Lions football team. Bill Sr. was one of three sons of Edsel Ford, who himself was the son of the original Henry Ford. Bill’s brothers, Benson and Henry Ford II held top level positions in the company, but it was Henry, commonly called Hank The Deuce who really ran the show. In fact, Henry conspired to made sure his brothers had little direct involvement in the day to day operations of the company, despite their lofty executive titles. But Henry was divorced several times and as part of each divorce he needed to unload shares in the company. So when the time came to name either Henry Ford II’s son Edsel, or Bill Ford’s son Bill Jr., to become chairman of the company, Bill Sr. and Jr. had the votes to get their way. In fact, I think this will be Bill Sr.’s legacy, putting his son in the position to determine the future direction of the company.

GM NEEDS TO BARE THE FACTS
General Motors has a mess on its hands with this recall involving ignition switches on cars that can turn off the engine without warning. That cuts out the power steering and power brakes and most dangerously, it prevents the airbags from deploying. The defect has led to numerous accidents and to at least 13 fatalities. Now it turns out the GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration knew about this problem years ago but did nothing about it. And this could crush the positive public perception GM was nurturing with all the award winning products it’s been coming out with lately. Alan Batey, the head of GM North America publicly apologized about the problem and GM CEO Mary Barra says they’ll do a thorough investigation, but here’s my Autoline Insight. GM needs to come clean on why it took no action on such a deadly defect. GM’s stakeholders and the public need to clearly understand why the system failed to address this situation. And this is not the time to protect careers or people’s reputations. It’s time to lay the facts on the table, no matter where they lead to. Otherwise GM is going to pay a horrific price in the court of public opinion, because this story is far from over.

INVENTORY LEVELS CREEPING UP
With a brutal winter hurting car sales in the American market you’d expect to see inventory levels going up. And that’s exactly what’s happening. As of the end of February automakers had an average of 75 days of inventory in the field. That’s 10 more days inventory than automakers had a year ago. But it varies greatly by automaker. Mitsubishi is the worst off with over 110 days’ supply, up 38 days from a year ago. The Volkswagen group has 96 days but that’s all due to the VW brand. Audi has 47 days and Porsche has 59. Ford has 91 days but the Lincoln brand has 105. Volvo and General Motors round out the top five automakers with the most inventory, though the Cadillac brand has 120 days. At the opposite end of the spectrum Subaru and Jaguar Land Rover are running with only 32 days supply. BMW and Mercedes have only 44, and Toyota has 62. The rule of thumb in the industry is that a 60 day supply is normal. But it varies by season, going up in the winter and down in the summer. So a 75 day average is really not too far out of line. But once you start going above that level automakers have two choices: start discounting like crazy or cut production. I think we’re going to start to see a little bit of both.

TOYOTA HELPS MAZDA
Toyota and Mazda are partnering up on subcompacts. Automotive News reports that Toyota’s next small car, which will replace the Yaris, will be based on the Mazda2 platform and also use Mazda’s Skyactiv powertrain. The car will be built at Mazda’s plant in Mexico. This is kind of a strange partnership and it makes me wonder if Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, or MITI for short, is the matchmaker behind this as a way to try and help a struggling Mazda.

NEW VOLT TO DEBUT NEXT YEAR
Since its introduction in 2010, the Chevy Volt has largely remained unchanged. And that could be a big reason why sales are starting to drop. But help is on its way. Edmunds reports that the new version will be introduced next year. It will be developed on a new front-wheel drive platform, but it will feature a mild redesign that’s not expected to look dramatically different. A complete redesign of the car is being developed but is still years away.

Coming up next, a look at how adding water to diesel fuel can help improve fuel economy for big trucks, we’ll be back right after this.

Last week on Autoline After Hours Calvin Visser from a company called Fierce Fuel Systems stopped by to talk about a process called diesel water emulsion which can help improve fuel economy for heavy duty commercial trucks. So how does the process work? Here’s Calvin with the explanation.

(The clip of Autoline After Hours guest Calvin Visser is only available in the video version of today’s webcast.)

I’m not sure I completely understand all of that, but you can get a lot more details watching the entire show.

No doubt you’ve heard our coverage of this new crash test that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety started using. They call it the small offset test and it has caught most automakers by surprise, but not Honda. How did Honda start designing for this test before most other car companies did, and what does it take to design a vehicle to meet that test? That’s part of the discussion coming up this Thursday night on Autoline After Hours. If you’re an automotive designer or have anything to do with meeting safety standards, this show should be on your must watch list.

But that wraps up today’s report thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

91 Comments to “AD #1330 – FoMoCo in Mourning, GM Needs to Come Clean, Inventories Creeping Up”

  1. XA351GT Says:

    Anyone want to bet GM will hang the blame on someone no longer with the company and better yet alive that could defend themselves. I have always found that any problems found are almost always blamed on those that can’t refute the charges.

    Okay a Toyota based on Mazda with a Mazda engine is really a Toyota???I know this has been done for years but really who do they think they are fooling?

    The Volt has never had great sales , so how can you tell they are tanking?

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    It makes no sense that giant Toyota will take a chance on those Mazda powertrain components for its ultra-reliable Yaris subcompacts, ditto for the introduction of a CVT to the perennial durable and reliable Corolla, IMO the Toyota 1.5 4 banger that has been used in those cars is one of the most durable engines anywhere.

  3. marshy Says:

    The diesel water emulsification sounds like it is facilitating a reaction similar to steam reforming used in petro-chem for facilitating hydrocarbon reactions to produce new compounds – like a Methane reformer where high pressure steam is mixed with CH4 to yield hydrogen.

    ..for what it’s worth.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    #1 same could be said for the GT86 with the Subie boxer engine, a lot of Toyota enthusiasts are screaming for a Toyota engine in that car, and I think they’re right on. I just wonder if they could fit the Camry engine in there?

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Toyota/Subaru are doing good.Or at the very least,Subaru hasn’t suffered at all so why would Toyota/Mazda?

  6. marshy Says:

    I second the mazda thoughts. There is more to this story than what is being told. I’ve had two mazda’s (Protege and a prev gen 5)and while neither has been a dog, both needed something in the $500-$1000 range in “non-scheduled” maintenance after 5 years. (A cracked exhaust manifold and a hydraulic engine mount).

    I can’t tell you what 5 year old Corolla’s need, but I’m guessing this isn’t what their reputation yields.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 3,Marshy: Hey……I was gonna say that ;}>

  8. marshy Says:

    @GA – well, if there’s two of us, we’re probably on to something.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Corolla’s all aluminum engine leads to eventual oil loss after many miles, not so with the iron block 1.5 Yaris engines. Might as well buy a freaking Mazda 2 over the Yaris, it sure handles a lot better!

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    4, I suspect using a Camry engine in the GT86 would require a lot of change. The boxer engine is very short, being only 2 cylinders long, and would package much differently from the Toyota inline 4.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, If the Mazda 2 and Yaris share a design, they will probably be a lot alike, both in good and bad ways.

    There are a lot more Toyota dealers, which would be good, if you need warranty service. Hopefully, the new one will be like the old one, in being reliable, and not needing much service.

  12. T. Bejma Says:

    “…makes me wonder if Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, or MITI for short, is the matchmaker behind this as a way to try and help a struggling Mazda.”

    John,

    Between manipulating the currency and now pairing up automakers, is there anything the Japanese government won’t do to prop up the industry? I can imagine all the Japanese Auto Blogs complaining about their tax dollars being spent so wastefully… Oh wait, that’s just here…

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Marshy:Cracked exhaust manifolds does happen on certain model/make of vehicles,ie: 2007/2012 JK’s with the 3.8L v6 was/is notorious for that.

    A broken motor mount can also do the exhaust manifold a number.There is a lot of weight attached to the exhaust manifold,and a long swinging moment from all of the attached CC’s etc.Add a broken motor mount and some of that stuff gets to moving more then it’s designed for.I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this in the newer diesel vehicles that not only have CC’s,but the addition of the dpf’s.

  14. XA351GT Says:

    Pedro @ #4 yeah there are so many examples. Think back to the 70s when GM used Isuzu trucks for the LUV Ford used Mazda for the Courier and Chrysler used Mitsubishi. They weren’t much more than a grille and badge change. They used the original manufacturers engine even though they had their own that would have probably fit. I just don’t know what if they think they are actually thinking that people believe they are made by whomever’s badge is in the grille.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, so in other words they’re stuck with that boxer engine in there unless they decide to do some serious re-engineering to the engine compartment? Also Kit remember that the Fiesta and Mazda 2 come from the same chassis, both they’re quite different in many ways, Ford took the higher ground while Mazda chose to keep the car lighter and cheaper (less equipment)

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    XA let’s not forget the Izuzu being sold as the Honda Passport until Honda came up with their own SUV.

  17. Alex Wellington Says:

    #12 this is so laughable, it is not even worth commenting on. Why don’t you whine about the real or imaginary support the GERMAN Government gives to the Giants (in quality and performance) of its Auto industry, it is THEY that really eat your lunch, if you cared to look at the market share GM and Ford USED to own in the luxury segment then (90%!) vs now (17%!), and please don’t try to come up with even more pathetic excuses to explain away this far worse debacle than the ones GM and Ford suffered in the segments the Japanese are strong.

  18. Alex Wellington Says:

    Re GM needing to come clean and what will come out of it. Do not expect anything more than a slap in the wrist.

    GM can easily afford to pay a few millions to the relatives of the 13 fatalities their CRAPPY (according to Mary Barra AND Consumer Reports) cars of those years resulted in,

    But the US Government, which bailed out GM, and to whom NHTSA and all these other clowns report to, will not embarass its own hand-picked first female CEO of GM by putting too much pressure on her. SHe will say “mistakes were made”, like those clowns in Washington always say, with no specifics, unless they blame it on some dead/retired former employee, and they will shove the whole thing under the rug.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    That old Lincoln ad that read: “What a luxury should be” would have fit the German brands a lot better than it did the wobbly, softly sprung and lethargic Continental Town Car.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Do you suppose to avoid this from ever happening again, GM will only offer push button start in all their vehicles, no matter at what price point they come in.

  21. Bradley Says:

    #12

    Valid criticism, but it doesn’t right the wrong. :)

  22. Bradley Says:

    Now as a card carrying member of the Yaris family I have some questions:
    1. If I am correct the Vitz/Belta in Japan (aka Yaris in the US) is a pretty popular car, are those going to be replaced by this Mazda effort?

    2. The Yaris is made in two factories, one in France and one in Japan. Will the facility in France make a different car or will it make the Mazda based car?

    Yaris, its a car.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    15,
    I could be wrong, but I suspect the car will stick with the boxer engine, at least for this generation. The in-line engine would be longer and, if mounted in the usual upright orientation, would be taller.

    I suppose they might be able to package an in-line engine more easily if they mounted it transversely, but you’d need extra bevel gears to change power direction, losing the simplicity of the front engine, rear drive power train.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Bradley: do you suppose they will make the Yaris more upmarket and bring here the Aygo being sold in Europe to compete against Spark, Fiat 500 and others?

  25. Alex Wellington Says:

    21 I would not even say it is a valid criticism. I am sick and tired of the excuses of these serial losers 30 years in a row.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    But Kit the engine bay is long enough to get something else in there, just maybe rearranging components a bit?

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    How many cases are there involving non-GM cars turning themselves off when people hang bowling balls (yes, I’m exaggerating) from the key? Is there data on that? I’m sure there are some, though probably fewer than with the Cobalt et. al.

  28. Alex Wellington Says:

    27 speaking of the Cobalt, the same COnsumer Reports which is currently ga-ga over the Impala and even rated the new Silverado better than the much more successful Ram,

    that same CR in those years (2007?) had the Chevy Cobalt that was recalled, as the worst, dead last, car in its segment, reliability-wise.

  29. Alex Wellington Says:

    24 I know owners of multiple TOyota dealerships overseas, and they told me their experience is (perhaps not surprisingly, since it is made together with two non-Toyota cars in some E European location), that the Aygo is not a reliable vehicle, and they tell their customers to get the Yaris instead.

    The same dealers were amazed at how reliable the Prius has proven to be.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    26, Could be. I’ll have to look under the hood of one, and see what the engine compartment looks like. I’m just guessing on this, based on what the engine installation looks like in regular Subarus.

    Is there anything really wrong with the Subaru engine, or is it just that Toyota fans would rather have a Toyota engine?

  31. HtG Says:

    Pedro, how does your son feel about his FRS?

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Aygo is a Toyota/PSA joint venture, is is built in the Czech Republic. From most of what I’ve read, it is competitive in its class, performance-wise, but I wouldn’t expect it to be as reliable as a Japanese built Yaris.

  33. Buzzerd Says:

    I sense a new Lutz book- Bean Counters vs P.R. Guys. How accountants saved money with human lives.

  34. Bradley Says:

    #24

    That is possible.

    IMO, I like cars to hold their place in the portfolio and not grow. But marketers are always wanting the tag line, “bigger”, to use.

    My Yaris is a Luxury car compared to my 1992 Tercel. In 2009, $15k got me:
    5 speed manual
    Ability to haul four 6 foot tall adults
    over 40mpg

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34, A friend of my sister had a Tercel, I think a 1980, and it had an oddball power train layout for a Japanese front driver. The engine was mounted longitudinally. Was your ’92 that way?

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with this boxer engine and it fits in perfectly, it seems to be the Toyota fan boys who all want them inline Supra 6′s in everything Toyota builds. HtG, he’s not a big car fan like me, but he likes the styling and the way it drives just fine. Prius is one of the only remaining Toyota models still built in Japan that get imported. Yaris too, but that will soon end as well.

  37. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I wonder how many ignition switch complaints were received by NHTSA (and how many they continue to get) siting ignition failure. Ignition failure in and in itself doesn’t necessitate a fatal crash, though apparently, there were some (that were linked to failed switches).

    Seems again, a lot of 20/20 hindsight and finger pointing going on. Until the investigation is complete I think I’ll reserve judgement on fault/failure/responsibility and resolution. I’ve heard for years that you shouldn’t hang a ‘pound’ of weight from your key chain; whether this was contributory or a primary cause, again, I’ll wait for the verdict. I still haven’t heard a definitive cause for these failures, i.e., bad engineering, faulty materials, assembly errors, or whatever.

  38. Brett Says:

    My 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander and my 2003 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport both cautioned in the owner’s manual against using heavily weighted key rings because of the excessive wear and strain they placed on the ignition lock.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36,
    Maybe they could put that Supra 6 in the middle of the car, with a very short drive shaft. The engine could serve as a center arm rest.

    I’ve read that they will continue building the Prius in Japan, when the next generation arrives in a year or two.

  40. Alex Wellington Says:

    37, 38

    Having key chains with only 2-3 keys in them is very impractical. I have 4-5 chains with a min of 2 and a max of 9 keys each, but they also have those little credit card things you need to get Kroger, RIteaid and Busch supermarket discounts. But they are all well below 1 lb weight.

    I find it hard to believe there are many people with keychains that heavy, unless they are Janitors in large buildings, or security personnel. Who would walk around with 1 lb of keys in a chain in his pocket? Or do they clasp them to their belts?

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have zero items hanging from my car keys, but I’m in a small minority.

  42. HtG Says:

    36,39

    In his memoir, David Coulthard described adjusting to the sensations of speed and acceleration in an F1 car. At first it’s astonishing, but after about a half day of practice you get used to it. You’re fine. He also write that he’d get so bored going down the hangar straight at Silverstone that he’d read the billboards. Niki lauds speaks similarly about the thrill of speed.

    I think the internet fan boys who drive mostly straight lines to KrispeKreme don’t quite know everything about cars yet.

  43. HtG Says:

    Niki Lauda

    -bad autocorrect, bad!

  44. jack878 Says:

    Those who know cars, know that GM has come out with world class cars lately. Tell that to the media because lots of them rather write negatives about GM. Look at Fox News and the Internet, they will always hammer at GM every chance they get. But when GM does something good, not much is said.

    If NHTSA also knew about this defect, was GM suppose to go against NHTSA? I don’t think any other auto maker would have done anything different. Sure we’ll hear a lot more because most do not know the facts yet.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/nation/nhtsa-dismissed-gm-ignition-defect-tied-to-13-deaths-wvideo/2169338

  45. Alex Wellington Says:

    44 The only reason you can call them “world class” is when they are re-badged OPELS designed by German Engineers, as are almost all Buicks and many Chevys too.

    If they are truly world class, why can’t they export them and sell well in serious overseas auto markets? Like GERMANY? Which Germany eats GM and Ford’s lunch here for three decades with Merc, BMW, AUDI dominating US market luxury auto sales?

  46. Buzzerd Says:

    ” why can’t they export them and sell sell in serious …” cause for many years they made large soft sedans that worked well for North American roads but not so much for European and cause Europeans are just as proud of their countries as we are of ours would be a start.

  47. XA351GT Says:

    Alex @ # 40 , my keys have 18 keys on 7 different rings all held by 1 large carbiner clip. Now while I don’t use every key every day I have no idea which keys I may need to use at any time. so being caught without keys isn’t a option for me. I have never had any issues (knock wood) by having large heavy key rings other than my wife being annoyed with them.

  48. Alex Wellington Says:

    46. Not just that, but because the Germans make the best Luxury (affordable, not exotics) cars in the world, (including Lexus and Infiniti and Acura!)

    Recently Caddilac made a good effort in trying to make well-performing cars like the ATS and the CTS, and they may attract some enthusiasts, but the competition from Merc and BMW and AUDI has not stood still and offers cars that may not all handle as well as the Caddys, but satisfy a long list of other features and requirements that the Caddy’s don’t.

    The proof of a “world class” maker is if that maker can sell a lot of cars at a profit not just in his own backyard, but also in Enemy Territory, as the Germans do here.

  49. XA351GT Says:

    Don’t forget Australia in your statement Alex @ #45. The Camaro was developed in Oz and the SS is the Holden Commodore.

  50. Alex Wellington Says:

    47 are your 18 keys more than a pound heavy? And, more importantly, where do you put them? My keychains easily fit the pockets of my Leather Jackets in the the winter and the windbreaker in spring and autumn, but in the summer it is always annoying to put them in my pant’s pockets, so I can imagine a chain with 3 times the keys would be not easy to carry around.

  51. Alex Wellington Says:

    49 Sure, I just mentioned the Buick Opels, the Australian imports are in low numbers, but there are also the Daweoo Chevy clones (Sonic, Spark, maybe the Cruze too?)

    Don’t tell Cwolf, he got the Buick Verano and I bet he truly believes he bought an all-American car. He does not even consider imports, and is missing out big time.

  52. HtG Says:

    Detachable keychain

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0054KHW9S/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1394479719&sr=8-1

    I did this when my knee kept jamming my keys in the Miata. Also a red REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT aviation strip attached to the starter key.

  53. Buzzerd Says:

    Alex- sales are are an indicator of preference not quality and preferences are driven by many things. I not here to argue wether Cadillac is better than who ever but to base your argument on sales is kind of silly although it does simplify things.

  54. Buzzerd Says:

    49 – are there ” all american cars” anymore? doesn’t everyone take design input from around the world so they can then sell them around the world?

  55. XA351GT Says:

    Alex @ # 50 . I just weighed them , 12 oz. I do carry them in my pants pocket. I’ve done this for so long I don’t even notice them there .

  56. cwolf Says:

    I know what I am buying when purchasing a car from only the Detroit2. Though only few models are made in the U.S., the profits still remain and parts/repairs are less expensive than foreign brands. All ofmy cars,over the years, had over 200K miles and had only the typical service needs of oil changes,tires,brakes and shocks/struts, including ball joints. Betcha cant say this for any German brand.
    Included in the reasons why American models don’t sell well abroad : German buyers are burdened with unneeded paperwork to purchase the import. The Japanese limits the volume.

  57. Bradley Says:

    #35

    Nah, it was transverse (aka standard FWD setup)

  58. HtG Says:

    Such a nice car, cwolf

  59. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Now….if it was only available with a diesel…lol

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    57, Maybe the 1st generation Tercel that went to ’84 or so, was the only one with a longitudinal engine.

  61. HtG Says:

    Diesel man, strikes again!

  62. GaryPaul Says:

    Regarding the GM Ignition Switches.

    I was reading–in Automotive News– that one of the concerns that exacerbated the problem appears to be sloppy record keeping and procedures in the engineering or records department. All companies with humans in them or run by humans or designed by humans will have errors. However what is maddening at GM was how one simple but almost unforgivable screw-up leads to additional problems:

    IN THE Automotive News article today, March 10th, 2014:

    “…GM said its design engineer responsible for the Cobalt ignition switch, which was supplied by Delphi Mechatronics, signed a document on April 26, 2006, approving a new detent plunger and spring that created more torque, making it harder to switch the key position.

    BUT BECAUSE THE PART NUMBER DID NOT CHANGE [capitalization mine], GM for years was unable to figure out why the reports it was getting of crashes without airbag deployment involved vehicles only from 2007 or earlier. (Delphi itself was in bankruptcy proceedings from 2005 through 2009 and cutting thousands of jobs.)

    Charlie Miller, the owner of a Mississippi auto repair shop who was hired by the Melton family’s lawyer, discovered the design change while performing a mechanical analysis of the Cobalt involved in the 2010 crash. A new switch Miller bought from GM had almost double the torque as the one in Melton’s Cobalt, he said in an interview… ”

    A QUALITY ISSUE OF AND BY ITSELF:
    John, you point in the intro that GM and NHTSA knew about the problem years ago but did nothing to correct it. Well, one reason was because, apparently, engineers reviewing it were looking elsewhere, as they were not aware that the part had been re-engineered! Incredible!! ENGINEERING RECORD KEEPING SHOULD ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS MAKE IT CLEAR WHENEVER A PART HAS UNDERGONE ENGINEERING CHANGES!
    How did this occur? Think about it—some engineer somewhere changed the part because the original part had problems–so why wasn’t the part number changed or the changes somehow clearly noted?! Somebody has to dig into this!

    Notice the massive inefficiency of having to investigate and discover the design change in a part because it had the same number even though it had undergone engineering changes!
    —-In a sense you could call the failure to re-number the part after it was upgraded, as a quality issue of and by itself!

    If GM engineers/mechanics/tech experts are relying on the “fact” that a part with the same part number has the same engineering specs then you can see the massive problems it can cause if the part has actually changed but the engineers think it didn’t! One additional point is this: Why did it take an outside source (Charlie Miller, a repair shop owner) to discover this part change first, before GM or its parts supplier Delphi discovered it? After reading the the Automotive News article it seems to me that GM’s engineering arm could not outdo a motivated repair shop owner’s cogent observations in a timely fashion.

    A MASSIVE RECALL/PR/MARKETING CAMPAIGN NEEDED TO REASSURE OWNERS/CUSTOMERS/PUBLIC
    Yes GM has to out do what other automotive companies have occasionally done to impress the owners and the public if it wants to come out of this mess in one piece. Note to GM: Why not do what John stated and bare the facts TO THE PUBLIC and your valued customers and then go farther as I suggest and develop a massive public relations and marketing effort to REASSURE us all that real changes are taking place.

  63. Dave Says:

    I wonder if there’s any value in Tesla buying Mazda with its new found acquiring power (aka stock price)? Would give them an instant sales and service network, and might not be a bad fit as far as brand image and corporate cultures go. I’m not sure they need to buy anyone, but if I had to pick that seems like a good one to me.

  64. cwolf Says:

    HtG, I find you to be a rather interesting fella who is well spoken and keen of witt. Would you mind sharing your occupation? I’ve often wondered. After knowing of your interests in driving and have taken coarses, I have begun to ask myself why I did’nt do that,too.

  65. HtG Says:

    64 tech investment and some public healthcare advocacy with the US, cwolf. The US stuff is the only important thing. ;)

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    If the public thinks you’re hiding something and not being forthcoming they will never forgive nor forget you, if you come out and admit you screwed up or tried to get away with it, eventually you will be forgiven and all will be well, just look at Christie from NJ

  67. jack878 Says:

    45, If you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t make up stories. GM has designed world class cars in Detroit. The new Chevy Impala, the new Corvette,and the Volt to name a few are ones designed in Detroit….so why not be honest?

  68. HtG Says:

    64 driving

    Great champion Juan Manuel Fangio said that one is not born knowing how to drive, one needs to learn. Driving school is the best money I have ever spent on cars, and has saved my soul on a couple of occasions.

    Only one thing funner

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    62, In this case, it seems that the part number should have been changed, since there was a known safety issue, but it is common practice to keep part numbers the same when an “improvement” has been made, but the parts are directly interchangeable.

  70. cwolf Says:

    68 driving schools

    If I ever had the chance to take a coarse,how do you get started…where does one begin?

  71. HtG Says:

    70 I took a SkipBarber introductory 1 day course in Lime Rock, CT. And then a year later took an advanced car control course with them. But there have to be schools in the MI area, cwolf. If I learned some fundamental lesson, it would have been to listen to what the instructors say. Guys get behind the wheel, and they take control. Instructors can tell the difference between the teachable and the not. I needed to overcome myself and change how I used my eyes and brain in order to move the car. That’s why I say I drive the mass; it took lots of time to get there. (You can get on the SB mailing list, and surely you’ll get a discount offer for a program; like 25-40% off nominal rates. People make vacations out of it. Don’t pay retail)

  72. Bradley Says:

    #63

    A rotary powered Tesla sounds kind of sexy.

  73. Jim Haines Says:

    Mitsubishi is the worst off with over 110 days’ supply, so does this mean they have five cars in stock at the dock.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    71, I took a driving school with a BMW club at Putnam Park in Indiana. They allowed non-BMW’s, if we signed up in time. I was driving a Dodge Spirit R/T, a fast, but not-too-great handling front driver. It was fun, and I learned a lot about car control at closer to the limit than I was used to at high speed.

  75. Moe Says:

    Question: Could GM tell the owners and accident victims to buzz off? Most of these cars were built before the bankruptcy. Would the new GM be liable for the old GM’s problems?

  76. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Gary, thanks for the write-up (post #62, on the ignition switch issue); in retrospect, how simple would it have been to include a suffix “a” to that modified part number. I wonder how many were involved in the change (that wasn’t documented); that may be the final analysis of liability (and all the repercussions that will ensue).

  77. Alex Wellington Says:

    Autonews.com reporting reveals GM’s wrongdoings in this VERY SERIOUS Recall Business:

    “DETROIT — Ten years ago, two General Motors engineers reported that the ignition switch on the Saturn Ion was so flimsy and so low on the steering column that the driver’s knee could easily bump the key and turn off the car.

    “This is a basic design flaw and should be corrected if we want repeat sales,” one of the engineers wrote in January 2004 as part of GM’s Company Vehicle Evaluation Program.

    But not only did GM fail to correct the flaw; it installed the same switch on the Chevrolet Cobalt that the company introduced that year, proclaiming a new era of higher-quality small cars. It kept using the switch until 2006, when it was quietly redesigned.”

    (note-remember how our TJ touted his POS Cobalt in this forum repeartedly, and how he recently was so gleeful over the far less serious TOYOTA recalls last year? AW)

    “For years, as drivers complained that their Cobalts and Ions were stalling repeatedly, GM treated it as a matter of customer satisfaction, not safety. Documents show that the company either didn’t grasp the significance of the problem or didn’t consider it worthy of resources. ”

    John was absolutely correct in his ALD yesterday, this is a really serious issue and this is why Barra is handling this herself, aided by a whole bunch of overpaid VPs and thousands of ‘extras’ (like our TJ?).

  78. T. Bejma Says:

    G.A. and anyone else that is interested…

    If you are on Twitter, the Vehicle Chief Engineer on the new Colorado/Canyon will be on an all day Twitter interview tomorrow during a ride event. Follow her at: https://twitter.com/AnitaBurke15

  79. T. Bejma Says:

    #75 – Moe

    From an Automotive News Article (subscription required)

    “In a legal twist, that dividing line — between “old GM” and “new GM” — could be a shield for GM in court, reducing potential legal liabilities by millions of dollars, if chastened executives are willing to invoke it.

    Under the terms of its restructuring, GM’s product liability extends only to accidents that happened after the reorganized company left bankruptcy in July 2009. Plaintiffs injured before that time would have to seek redress from the defunct shell of GM in Bankruptcy Court, where the chance of compensation is slim.”

  80. Alex Wellington Says:

    75 You mean legally, or ethically? Even if GM has no legal obligation to correct “Old GM’s” wrongdoings, the negative publicity if it does not would be substantial.

  81. HtG Says:

    80 they also have to consider the risks of setting a precedent with respect to ‘Old GM’ liabilities.

  82. Alex Wellington Says:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20140311/BUSINESS01/303110061/Families-plunge-back-into-grief-with-GM-recalls

    Speaking of negative publicity…

    “One death is a tragedy. A million Deaths is a Statistic”

  83. Alex Wellington Says:

    And this from Autonews.com (full article req subscription)

    “General Motors has hired Jenner & Block Chairman Anton Valukas, who served as a federal Justice Department-appointed examiner of the downfall of Lehman Brothers Holdings, to help lead an internal probe of the handling of an ignition-switch failure tied to at least 13 deaths. ..”

    This is obviously not your father’s recall!

  84. Alex Wellington Says:

    Also from Autonews.com. Did you know that the father of the original Toyota Prius is now Toyota’s CHAIRMAN? Nothing succeeds like success!

    This guy has high expectations for the segment he helped create. “I foresee hybrid models pretty soon reaching 20 percent of global sales from about 13 percent to 14 percent now,” Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told Automotive News Europe.

    That number was unfathomable to Uchiyamada in 1993 when he was put in charge of a small Toyota Motor Corp. group called Project G21, which was tasked with creating a 21st century car.

    “My team proposed to top management that we design a vehicle that would achieve one and a half times better fuel consumption than anything that existed before,” Uchiyamada said. Toyota’s top management wasn’t satisfied and told the Project G21 team: “Double it. You are not being ambitious enough,” the 67-year-old executive recounted during a recent visit to Milan, Italy. Twenty-one years and more than 6 million Toyota and Lexus hybrids later, Uchiyamada knows he and his team achieved their mission…”

    (and he has been amoply rewarded for it!)

    I am in as much awe of this guy as I am of those who created the 911.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    82, A car full of unbelted passengers ran off a rural road at 71 mph, where the speed limit was probably 55 or less, and crashed into trees at 55 mph, and people died. Is that surprising?

    Yes, there was negligence at GM, but this story isn’t very convincing that said negligence caused these deaths.

  86. Alex Wellington Says:

    85 As I already said, this is a major scandal and it reveals gross negligence on the part of those responsible inside GM. EVEN if NONE of the 13 died, it faces the exact same grave accusations.

    The accident WOULD NOT have caused the deaths if the systems worked properly, but they did not, because of the faulty ignition switch and everything that followed.

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    84, Yep, it seems that Toyota really “got it right” with their hybrids. Prius is the ultimate in utility with great mpg, and it is “affordable.” For people who just want good mpg, but want a generic sedan, there are Camry and Avalon hybrids, and a Lexus or two.

    All of them have a system that is mechanically very simple, and they have managed to make the complex electronics reliable, surprisingly so.

  88. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #86
    “… accident WOULD NOT have caused the deaths if the systems worked properly”

    Substitute MAY for WOULD and you might be correct.

    Also, reading the same article, second case mentions: ….coming from a party (drinking)…., now I don’t advocate the blame should be excused, however, there was major conjecture on placing blame (in the first place). This needs to be addressed and that is what process we are currently in; a ‘witch-hunt’ is unwarranted (or media feeding frenzy/hype).

  89. Kit Gerhart Says:

    88,
    Exactly, and the air bags’ not deploying would, presumably, make no difference for the rear seat passengers.

    The big thing, at this point, is that GM has a lot of work to do to fix their reputation. Nothing that can be done now will help the people who may, or may not have died as a result of those switches. FWIW, if I had one of the cars, I probably wouldn’t even take it in for the recall, since I don’t hang stuff from my key anyway.

  90. Dave Moore Says:

    Mazda’s SkyActiv fours are vastly superior in terms of flexibility and smoothness than anything that Toyota puts out, not to mention emissions and economy and with the weight savings already meted out on successive Mazda6 and Mazda3 platforms, Toyota must have been privy to at least the same level of technical advancement in the new Mazda2 in order to commit to this.
    It’s worth remembering that Mazda saved 100kg in the last Mazda2 model change, which is a massive amount when you see the whole plot doesn’t weigh much more than 1000kg all-up. This is a huge compliment to Mazda and both companies are definitely winners here.

  91. Moe Says:

    80, Legally.